The US has a chairman who personifies many of the things Naomi Klein has been advising about for years. She says her new book had to be written before things get worse

The fact that Naomi Klein predicted the forces that explain the rise to power of Donald Trump dedicates her no pleasure at all. It is 17 years since Klein, then aged 30, published her first book, No Logo a seductive fury against the branding of public life by globalising corporations and induced herself, in the words of the New Yorker , the most visible and influential figure on the American left almost overnight. She aimed the book with what voiced then like this crazy idea that you could become your own personal global brand.

Speaking about that notion now, she can only laugh at her former innocence. No Logo was written before social media made personal branding second nature. Trump, she suggests in her new volume, No Is Not Enough , exploited that phenomenon to become the first incarnation of chairwoman as a brand, doing to the US nation and to the planet what he had first practised on his big gold towers: plastering his name and everything it stands for all over them.

Klein has also charted the other force at work behind the victory of the 45 th president. Her 2007 volume, The Shock Doctrine , argued that neoliberal capitalism, the ideological love affair with free markets espoused by adherents of the late economist Milton Friedman, was so destructive of social bonds, and so beneficial to the 1% at the expense of the 99%, that its own population was able to countenance it when in a state of shock, following a crisis a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, a war.

Klein developed this theory first in 2004 when reporting from Baghdad and watching a brutally deregulated market state being imagined by agents of the Bush administration in the rubble of war and the fall of Saddam Hussein. She documented it too in the consequences of the the Boxing Day tsunami in Sri Lanka, when the inundated coastline of former fishing villages was parcelled up and sold off to global hotel chains in the name of regeneration. And she saw it most of all in the fallout of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, when, she argued, disaster was first dismissed and exacerbated by government and then exploited for the gain of consultants and developers.

Friedmanites understood that in extreme circumstances bewildered populations longed above all for a sense of control. They would willingly award exceptional powers to anyone who promised certainty. They understood too that the combination of social media and 24 -hour cable news allowed them to fabricate such scenarios almost at will. The libertarian right of the Republican party, in Kleins words, became a movement that prays for crisis the way drought-struck farmers pray for rain.

In 2008, the year after The Shock Doctrine was published, Klein believed that the financial crash would prove a reckoning for this cynical philosophy. That the ways in which the Wall Street elite had enriched itself through manipulation and deregulation would eventually be exposed in plain sight. In retrospect, it seems, the monumental frailties of the system, its patent vulnerability, allied with fears over terrorism and a global refugee crisis, merely induced populations more desperate and fearful. They appeared to crave anyone who could suggest simple solutions to apparently intractable problems. Anyone who said that they could turn back the clock to build America great again and who had the branded cap to prove it.

For those of us who cant help looking at those events without turning lines from WB Yeatss The Second Coming over in our heads( what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born ?), Kleins new book which analyzes in detail both the phenomenon of Trump and how liberal and progressive forces-out might counter his reality is a brilliant articulation of restless anxiety.

Speaking at her home in Toronto last week, Klein suggested to me that Trumps novelty was to take the shock creed and make it a personal superpower. He maintains everyone all the time in a reactive nation, she said. It is not like he is taking advantage of an external shock, he is the shock. And every 10 minutes he creates a new one. It is like he has these lasers coming out of his belt.

She wrote the book very fast, a little faster than is her usual habit, because she feared that the further into a Trump administration America travels, the less scope there might be for resistance, for building alternative solutions. In this she believes that there are important precedents for people to understand.

She points hopefully to the example of Spain in 2004, when after the Madrid train bombings the prime minister, Jos Maria Aznar, announced that a state of emergency and special nation powers were necessary. The people, remembering Franco, took to the streets to repudiate that analysis and kicked the government out, voting in a party that would pull Spanish troops out of Iraq. She is fully aware, too, of the alternative in Turkish president Recip Tayyip Erdoans successful plea for autocratic powers following the chaos of the failed coup in 2016. Kleins book sets out those examples in advance of any comparable shock in America, and makes the suit for collective resistance in cases where there crisis. I hope none of it happens[ in the State] and none of it is useful, she says, but just in case, I wanted to have it out there as soon as possible.

The daughter of American parents, Klein lives in Toronto with dual citizenship. When she thought about putting her book together, her original plan was for an anthology of articles threaded along with interviews, but once she started analysing the presidency she kept writing in a kind of frenzy. One of the benefits of having a deadline and an all-consuming project was that it meant she was forced to use the blocking app Freedom to protect her from the distraction of the internet. I think if I hadnt written this volume I only would have gazed at Twitter like many others for months on end, watching it unfold, and writing snippy things at people.

That tendency among Trumps critics, she says, is a symptom of his banal influence. She devotes one section of her volume to the notion that through Twitter Trump is making the political sphere in his own image and that we all have to kill our inner Trump. Among other things, she says, the president is the personification of our splintered attention spans. One essential ingredient of resistance, she indicates, is to retain a faith in telling and understanding complex narratives, keeping religion with narrative.

One of the questions that Kleins book does not reach a conclusion about is how conscious Trump is of his shock creed tactics. Is he a demagogue in the scheming way of Putin and Erdoan, or only a useful idiot for the forces around him?

I think he is a showman and that he is aware of the way that demonstrates can confuse people, she says. That is the story of his business. He has always understood that he could distract his investors and bankers, his tenants, his clients from the underlying unsoundness of his business, simply by putting on the Trump show. That is the core of Trump. He is undoubtedly an imbecile, but do not underestimate how good he is at that.

Naomi Klein addresses 3,000 people outside Torontos police headquarters during a demo over the arrest of protesters during the G20 summit in 2010. Photograph: Lucas Oleniuk/ Toronto Star via Getty Images

Beyond that he has, presumably wittingly, surrounded himself with some of the worlds most expert crisis profiteers. Men who have constructed billions out of meltdown and financial crisis, such as Wilbur Ross, the king of bankruptcy who is now secretary of commerce, or the various crash-plutocrats recruited from Goldman Sachs and elsewhere.( In any other moment, Klein says with a chuckle, the very fact that the CEO of Exxon Mobil is now the secretary of state would be the central scandal. Here we have a situation where there is so much else to concern us it is barely a footnote .)

Kleins book on Trump comes garlanded with quotes from just about every notable leftwing intellectual celebrity you can think of. Noam Chomsky calls it urgent, timely, and needed. Yanis Varoufakis describes it as a manual for emancipation by means of the only weapon we have against orchestrated misanthropy: constructive disobedience. Michael Stipe, meanwhile, asks: Who better than Naomi to make sense of this madness, and help us find a way out?

Does she recognise the peril that she is preaching only to the converted, and further entrenching our polarised politics?

She patently hopes that is not the case, pointing to the parts of the book in which she criticises Hillary Clinton and Obama and( even) Bernie Sanders for failing to connect effectively enough to the lives of the left-behind. Her overriding nervousnes is that while the liberal left wrings its hands over the ways that the US election was lost, and get embroiled in Russian conspiracy hypothesis , not enough attention is being paid to the conspiracy happening in the middle plain sight: the dangers of kleptocracy, and the broken promises to the working class.

I am not saying Russia is not important, she says, but Trumps base is very well defended against that: the liberal media is out to get him, its fake news, and all the rest. While we are all click and fixing our eyes on the never-ending Trump show the handshake with Macron, the hand-holding with May he is, she argues, enacting policies that are systematically moving wealth upwards, and crucial questions are not being asked aloud enough: Is your social security safe? Is your healthcare safe? Are your wages going to be driven down? He benefits so much from that focus away from economics.

Klein has not been surprised how, at a time of economic downturn and mass migration, nationalism has once again demonstrated such a potent force in successive elections in the west. She makes the argument that the only thing that can rival those forces of white patriotism and xenophobia is a justice-based economic populism on the left. What Hillary Clintons campaign demonstrated, she indicates, is that when you run a centrist free-market candidate against fake populism its a recipe for disaster.

Doesnt the election of Macron in France prove that pragmatic centrism is still a viable force if the right nominee emerges to express it?

Klein believes the jury is out on that question. The fact is Le Pen did better in that election than she ever should have. I think the issue is what happens if Macron governs with the various kinds of austerity that has fuelled these forces, and his glisten wears off? What happens the next time around? The analogy that Le Pen equals Donald Trump is not exact, she says. It is more Le Pen equals David Duke[ former leader of the Ku Klux Klan ]. If David Duke got the percentage of the vote that Le Pen get, we would be terrified, as well we should be.

Klein greets the emergence of unashamedly leftwing candidates, with an ability to inspire exuberance, particularly among the young. She points to the nostalgic socialism of Sanders, Jean-Luc Mlenchon and Jeremy Corbyn as evidence of this. But dont they look more like the past than the future?

I dont guess any of these guys figured it out, she says. But we should think about the fact that Mlenchon could get 70,000 people at a rally from nowhere, and look at the upsurge we have insured with Corbyn. Especially given the fact that he is kind of the exact opposite of a charismatic legislator.( Once research results was known, Klein emailed to say: The UK election truly proved the power of leading with substance and ideas, rather than slick packaging and anxiety. The more May tried to exploit peoples fear and shock telling them they might need to give up their privacy and human rights to fight terror, that they should delegate their rights to her the more[ Corbyns] message of hope, that positive yes looked like the better option to many people .)

In this sense, Klein places a lot of religion in the cyclical nature of cynicism and hope, expressed his belief that the generation now in its teens and 20 s is much less phobic of electoral politics than her generation ever was. She experienced a version of that cycle in her own growing up. She was in many ways born to protest, the third Klein generation of principled resistance.

It began with her paternal grandparents, Anne and Philip, who met as communists in Newark, New Jersey, in the 1930 s. Philip was an animator for Walt Disney. He organised a strike at the studios during the stimulating of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and was fired as a result. He went to work in a shipyard, before he and his wife became part of the nascent green motion, living at the Nature Friends retreat in Paterson, New Jersey, tending their veggies, listening to Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie.

Kleins parents took that retreat from American life a stage further by moving to Canada, in part in protest over the Vietnam war. Her parent ran as a paediatrician in public hospitals. Her mom, Bonnie, a film-maker, helped to create the feminist movie collective Studio D and attained documentaries about Greenham Common and a polemical movie against pornography.

Klein has recalled how she rebelled against her revolutionary upbringing, insisting on makeup and pop culture; how she always resented being dragged along to peace marches and demonstrations, or what she afterward called another poncho barbecue. She was for most of her teens dismissive of her mothers feminism. She credits two particular catastrophic events in changing her intellect. First, aged 46, her mother suffered a brain tumor and a series of strokes that left her quadriplegic. Klein be used to help nurse her for six months and was inspired by the fortitude and spirit her mother indicated in her partial rehabilitation, and the strength she discovered in herself. At around the same hour, during her first year at the University of Toronto, a gunman killed 14 women at the cole Polytechnique in Montreal, declaring: I dislike feminists. The event motivated Klein into political activism and she has called herself a feminist ever since, though initially she was sceptical of conventional party politics.

Among my generation there was a purist position that any linked with electoral politics was an unforgiveable compromise, she says. I dont should be noted that virtually so much in this generation. Part of it is based in movement constructing but it also involves operating people for office at every level.

She hesitates to suggest her book as a rallying cry for a political party she is wary of making herself anything like a figurehead, hoping to be one voice among many but suggests that there are ideas in it that people might gather around. She is doing a series of( inevitably sold-out) events across the US to support the book, though she says: I have a five-year-old son so I wont be permanently on the road.

The part she hopes will most resonate with her audiences is the Leap manifesto an incorporated leap forward on climate action, racial justice, decent chores. She has created Leap with her husband, Avi Lewis, a documentary film-maker, in conjunction with various activist groups heads of labour federations and unions, directors of major green groups, iconic indigenous and feminist leaders, key organisers and theoreticians focused on migrant rights, open technology, food justice, housing, faith, and more from across Canada and beyond. The ideas are an extension of the theme of her last book, This Changes Everything , which argued that a new progressive politics had to be built around a revolutionary and sustained green tech revolution, and an outright rejection of fossil fuels.

The proactive message is at least as important as her deconstruction of Trump, she hopes. When I wrote The Shock Doctrine I actually did think that simply showing how crisis was exploited would be enough to repel it, she says. Then the accident happened and I watched these social movements fill squares in Portugal and Italy and Spain I lived there for months all chanting We wont pay for your crisis. I aimed This Changes Everything with an interview I had with Alexis Tsipras before he was elected in Greece, where he said to me It is enough in this moment to say no.

Klein profoundly disagreed, because no is never enough. Anger and rejection of the status quo will never sustain people on its own. The triumph of neoliberalism is the concept that the alternative is always even worse. To overrule that there has to be a boldness and a recapturing of the utopian imagination. If we cant do that, then I actually dont think we have a chance against these guys.

Klein ends her current volume talking about these movements that have spontaneously conveyed resistance Black Lives Matter, various green and community groups and argues for them to come together. To resist this we have get out of the silos, she says. Environmentalists in one corner, feminists in one corner, racial justice in another. We dont have enough spaces where we can get together.

A panel of speakers, including Jeremy Corbyn and Naomi Klein, speaking at the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy( TUED) event in the Salle Olympe de Gouges, Paris, 2015. Photo: Alamy

In carrying this hope, Klein references the example of her moms stroke and the ways that devastating event shaped her understanding of coping with crisis. She takes it as two examples that sudden adversity makes strength and hope as well dread. In a shocked nation, with our understanding of the world seriously shaken, a great many of us can become childlike and passive, and overly trusting of people who are only too happy to abuse that trust. But I also know, from my own familys navigation of a shocking event, that there can be the inverse response as well. We can evolve and grow up in a crisis, and set aside all kinds of bullshit fast.

My mothers stroke was a really formative moment in my life, she says. And I think because of it I have been attuned to seeing other express of that. When I started to write about crisis in The Shock Doctrine , it was with a sense that these moments of trauma could bring out the best in people.

We talk a little about how the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London have again exemplified that fact. How, contrary to the efforts of forces that might have exaggerated the fear and exploited the crisis to divide us, they became occasions to reaffirm tremendous shared humanity and spirit. One facet of that, I indicate, is that at heart, people arent made to be fearful all the time, life reasserts itself.

The thing about the shock dogma is that if they try to use it too much it stops being shocking, Klein says. That is the importance of historical memory in these moments and of course Britain has the blitz spirit in its DNA: “weve been” people who do not crumble during crisis.

One of the difficulties that America faces, she indicates, is that it doesnt have that kind of collective memory. Historical fights that the nation has overcome Jim crow and civil rights, the internment of Japanese Americans during the second world war have not been shared narratives, and therefore have been harder to unite around.

She hopes that a shared investment in the environment can provide some of that social glue; in this respect, Trumps rejection of the Paris Accord can be a starting handgun for communities to take action into their own hands. The cities and provinces that have pledged to abide by the Paris principles demonstrate the limits of central power. The message is that neoliberals control a lot but they dont control everything. They dont choose how we get our energy or move ourselves. Part from any violation of the spell of neoliberalism is having people live alternative solutions, and cities and communities are where that happens. The organizations that used to be the backbone of social movements are in disarray and so lessened, and so we need to fix it for ourselves.

In this sense she sees her Leap idea as a piece of open source code: If you make activism a brand, you are in competition with similar brands, doing similar run, she says. With Leap, if you want it, take it, do something cool with it, if you dont want it, who cares?

How optimistic is she about that prospect?

I have good days and bad days, she says. Or good parts of days and bad parts of days. It is undeniably frightening that at this moment of such intense gravitation for the planet this figure of such extreme idiocy has risen to power. But that means that there is more urgency to find solutions. She giggles. Will that do as my message of hope? she asks.

I guess it will for now, I say.

Naomi Klein will be speaking at Royal Festival Hall, London, on 4 July at 7.30 pm. No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics is published by Allen Lane( 12.99 ). To order a transcript for 11.04 going to see or call 0330 333 6846 Free UK p& p over 10, online orders merely. Phone orders min p& p of 1.99

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